I planned this walk to link with the Countryfile TV programme on Grizedale, now open to the public — though this was once not the case.
Grizedale Hall, now sadly demolished in the 1960s, was a secret place during the World War II, when it was Prisoner of War Camp No 1, which meant that only the most dangerous Nazis were kept there. The hall was locally called the U-Boat Hotel and the man in charge was Major Claridge, whose family owned the famous London Hotel.
These days the hall has gone but its outbuildings make up the visitors’ centre and there are lots of wartime photographs.
Grizedale Forest is now famous for its walks and especially its mountain bike circuits but there are plenty of other activities for visitors. I am long past my prime as a cyclist but Cumbrian sport has long been a hobby of mine.
Grizedale is situated between Windermere and Coniston but a visit to the Forestry Commission’s attraction should never be rushed. The Visitor Centre is reached on a narrow road two miles to the south of Hawkshead.
From the Visitor Centre find the red signposts. Pass a splendid nest of picnic tables to the right and approach the children’s adventure playground. Just before this pass through a green door in a high wall. Turn right and follow the red marker posts. Follow a well made lane and pass Home Farm and along a signposted way indicating Coniston Water. Ascend a rough pass and turn right along a forest road. Be sure to follow the red banded post and ascend the track.
Here you enter the forest and if the route is not too busy keep a wary eye open for red deer, especially as August gives way to September. These splendid animals are now in full antler. This is a level section and then cross a pleasant little stream. In the summer of 2012 this was very often a pleasant large stream! The route turns left to reach a T-junction of substantial forest tracks. Take the left of these tracks and as the track starts to descend look out for views of Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam. Follow an obvious track to the left to reach a sign telling visitors of the potential fire hazard. Follow the signposts to reach a road.
Turn left and follow a signposted bridleway before crossing Black Beck. This was once a managed area of woodland making charcoal for use in the iron ore foundries. Pass through a woodland full of wildlife.
Follow an obvious track with a conifer plantation to the left. After an ascent join a wide forest road. Turn right at a T-junction and take the red signs to the right. Look out for a deer gate, which ensures delicate new trees are protected.
Continue to ascend to reach Carron Crag. This at 1,025ft is the highest point in the Forest Park. Get your breath back and enjoy views of the Howgills and Morecambe Bay. Now start to descend, pass another deer gate and bear left to reach a stone wall. Bear right to return to the starting point.